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10 Tips for Utilizing your Planner & Organizing Your Life

Twenty-four years ago, my new husband gave me a giant planner for Christmas.

I know. This might be only slightly better than a vacuum.

It wasn’t because he thought I NEEDED one. He really thought I’d LIKE one. He’d started a new job and part of it included using this big planner system. I thought it was ridiculous. He thought it was fantastic, and was fairly confident I would, too, once I used it.

I hauled that big planner out in January of 1996, and I’ve been hooked on a paper planner ever since.
Oh sure. I tried to stay organized on my phone in 2008. I remember it vividly because it was the year I forgot everything. So back to paper I went.

With 5 kids playing all kinds of sports at every level and a job that has endless observations and meetings, a planner that is efficient and effective is imperative, and what I do now works for me. Here’s a few pointers on making a planning system that works for you!

1. Whether a paper planner or your phone, invest in it fully. You’re a mom and busy. Assume right now you’ll forget everything if it’s not in your planner, and then write everything in it. You’ll never have to wonder where your list is – it’s in your planner. That invite? You wrote the important info in your planner and threw it away. The “to do” list for the party? Yep – you wrote it in your planner.

2. Make a code that works for you. Each of my boys’ names, conveniently enough, starts with a different letter. So I only use first letters for them. Sports have a code. This keeps my boxes cleaner and neater and much easier to read.

3. To me, a monthly calendar is important, but a weekly layout is essential. I need to know what my month looks like at a glance, but I like to lay out my weekly tasks, errands, thoughts, gifts to buy, and musings on the weekly spread.

4. I get invites through my calendar on my phone. Every Sunday I sit down and make sure everything that I was “invited” to on my phone and work calendar is on my planner.

5. Sunday is also when I plan my clothes for the week, when I’ll workout, and make sure I have things set for the boys’ lives. Uniforms washed? Practice jerseys in the right spot? My clothes are arranged in order in my closet, workouts are scheduled, and things for the boys are arranged at this time, too, or added to my planner for later in the week.

6. I LOVE checking things off my lists. Big checks go by accomplished tasks, lines go through deleted tasks, and an arrow lets me know I’ve moved it.

7. Thursday, I use a highlighter and highlight anything on my weekly planner that must get finished by the end of the week. This helps me prioritize as my week winds down.

8. I keep sticky notes in my planner for added info that might need to move from week to week and notes I take when on the phone. I also have a personalized planner and add extra note pages – I use those for informal meetings.

9. While stickers are cute, I just don’t have any desire to utilize them – they make things complicated and gives me less space to write. I prefer flair pens (the fave of teachers), and am absolutely not beholden to certain colors. I use what I find!

10. I have older kids, and by high school they were monitoring a lot of their activities. I had their games on my calendar, but once they could drive they were in charge of their practices. I knew when they were, but for the most part they took care of their own schedules by age 16. All of them use their phones exclusively for planning now, but they do have a system. I’d like to think seeing my intense planning had something to do with this!

Marcus knows better than to attempt to buy me a planner now. I am VERY particular and super excited when it shows up in the mail. My system works for me, but it took a while to get there. And I’ll add, I’ve been drawing an arrow by “change the shower curtains” for about 13 weeks now, so just because it’s on the planner doesn’t mean it gets off the planner…but it’s a start!


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Best Activities for Twin Toddlers in Wichita

There I was, sitting with my six-week-old twins next to me watching my two-year-old daughter spin, dance, and sing, happy as could be. Four months earlier, I was terrified of being a mom to twins. I worried my daughter (and I) would suffer from being stuck in our house alone all day with two newborns.  

But contrary to my worries, I sat with my massive iced coffee watching my girl twirl gleefully in music class while my babes slept. 

Being a new mom to twins can be isolating and lonely. Being a new mom to twins with a preschool-aged singleton can be even more so. 

As a mom to a three-year-old and 19 months old twins, finding safe and fun activities for everyone is vital. Especially when I take them out on my own (gulp).

Thankfully we live in an incredibly twin-friendly city. In my short time as a mother to twins, I have discovered some fantastic twin-friendly activities in Wichita. I’m excited to share them with you fellow Wichita twin mom, so you can get out occasionally and feel a little less alone! 

Below are some tried and true boredom busting, sanity-saving twin activities I’ve found to be manageable on my own.

Easy Indoor Activities To Do in Wichita With Twins

  • My Gym: MyGym is an enclosed, safe space offering a physical outlet for littles. The teachers always have open arms waiting to hold a baby or help load and unload children before and after class. The bonus is they offer a multiples discount!
  • Wichita Sports Forum Sand Play: This is an excellent option for multiples because it’s cheap and incredibly safe. For just $2, you can take your littles to the enclosed sand area where they can roam, investigate, and play for hours. 
  • Music Together: These classes are great for siblings; classes are held in an enclosed room where children are free to move, play, sing, and dance as they wish. It’s also stroller friendly and offers sibling discounts.
  • Andover Library Story Time: This storytime is perfect as it’s in an enclosed room and includes several age groups. Plus, it’s a stroller-friendly location, and there is a children’s play area for kiddos to use after storytime is over.
  • Cabela’s: This is a simple and free activity to do with littles contained in a stroller or wagon. You can waste an hour walking around, looking at animals, fish tanks, and grabbing a snack. 
  • Exploration Place: When I take my twins and pre-schooler to exploration place, I utilize our stroller and the enclosed kids’ play area. I can keep an eye on all three of my littles while they explore and enjoy!

Easy Outdoor Activities To Do in Wichita With Twins

  • Andover Park: With clean bathrooms and fantastic equipment, we spend many hours happily playing at Andover park. I do bring a stroller, but feel safe letting my littles roam. 
  • Sedgwick County Park: The sizable boundless playground at Sedgwick County Park is gated and has nearby bathrooms. 
  • Great Plains Nature Center: This beautiful, stroller-friendly trail and nature center is perfect for making stops to let littles get out and safely explore (It’s also a good spot for snacks:).twins Wichita
  • Maize Splash Pad: While the splash pad is not fully enclosed, it opens up to a park and a field. The littles are free to run and splash and mama doesn’t have to chase them constantly.
  • Botanica: I load my twins up in the stroller and make a beeline for the children’s garden. We can spend hours investigating everything there is to see while everyone is within eyesight!
  • Tanganyika: This perfect sized wildlife zoo is easy to navigate, and with animal interactions, my twins and pre-schooler stay mesmerized for hours. Thanks to the zoo layout, my littles can run around and play and I don’t worry about losing them!

Tips for Going Out on Your Own With Twins

  • Map out parking and walking for all your locations.
  • Always have a stroller. I cannot emphasize this enough; your stroller is your lifeline, friends.
  • Make sure you have snacks, diapers, your twins’ comfort items, drinks, and extra shoes/clothes for each little. I keep a tote with all of the above in my SUV at all times now.
  • Be prepared to leave at any moment and know your exit strategy. You may have to bolt your location at any time. 
  • Have an option B in your back pocket. There have been several occasions where I arrive somewhere with the best intentions, but realize it just won’t work, so plan B it is.

Having twins is a beautiful, fun, intimidating, exhausting adventure. It may seem impossible to go out and have fun with them, but it’s not. You’ve got this, mama!


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5 Kid-Approved, Veggie-Loaded Oatmeal Recipes for Busy Mornings

I have this thing with trying to include vegetables at every meal. Yep, even breakfast. I figure I only have a handful of chances to offer my kiddo the good stuff each day, so why squander an opportunity when he’s often most hungry?

According to ChooseMyPlate.gov, the daily vegetable requirements for children range from 1 to 3 cups, depending on their age.

While that may seem like a daunting quota to meet at first, incorporating veggies at breakfast means we can provide more opportunities for our children to eat a well rounded and varied diet.  

Oatmeal is a kid-friendly vessel for serving up some serious veggie action at the start of the day, and you can even get the kid(s) involved in making it.  From a very early age, my son has helped me make many of the foods we eat.  Not only does this build confidence and trust, but he also has a stake in it.

He’s more likely to try a bite of oatmeal made with cauliflower since he helped make it.  

The cauliflower isn’t a weird ingredient to him, because we added it to the saucepan just as matter-of-factly as we did the oats and milk. Kids of all ages can help make oatmeal. If they’re toddlers, you can pre-measure all of the ingredients and let them dump everything into a saucepan. If they’re a little older, they can help measure, pour and mix.

Here you’ll find a base oatmeal recipe along with five of my go-to, veggie-loaded alterations. These are all in regular rotation in our home and I even try to meal prep a couple batches at a time to store in the freezer for ultra busy mornings.

Oatmeal Base

  • 1 15oz. can light coconut milk
  • ¾ cup organic rolled oats
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 2-3 tablespoons pure maple syrup, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 scoops collagen peptides, optional

Chocolate Cauliflower

  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup riced cauliflower (fresh or frozen)
  • 3 tablespoons hemp seeds
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder

Topping Ideas: raspberries, strawberries, chocolate chips, nut butter

Instructions:

In a medium saucepan, combine coconut milk, oats, sea salt, and chia seeds (from the ‘Oatmeal Base’ portion).  Add ½ cup water, riced cauliflower, hemp seeds, and cocoa powder.  Mix well and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until oats are softened and oatmeal has thickened, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and stir in maple syrup vanilla, and collagen peptides, if using.  If you like, thin with a little more water to reach desired consistency.  Portion into bowls and add toppings.

Pumpkin Pecan

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (canned or homemade)
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Topping Ideas: pecans, pumpkin seeds, banana slices, dried cranberries

Instructions:

In a medium saucepan, combine coconut milk, oats, sea salt, and chia seeds (from the ‘Oatmeal Base’ portion).  Add pumpkin puree, pecans, and pumpkin pie spice.  Mix well and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until oats are softened and oatmeal has thickened, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and stir in maple syrup vanilla, and collagen peptides, if using.  If you like, thin with a little water to reach desired consistency.  Portion into bowls and add toppings.

Blueberry Zucchini

  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • ½ cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Topping Ideas: more blueberries, walnuts, sliced banana, raisins

Instructions:

In a medium saucepan, combine coconut milk, oats, sea salt, and chia seeds (from the ‘Oatmeal Base’ portion).  Add zucchini, banana, blueberries, walnuts, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Mix well and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until oats are softened and oatmeal has thickened, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and stir in maple syrup vanilla, and collagen peptides, if using.  If you like, thin with a little water to reach desired consistency.  Portion into bowls and add toppings.

Carrot Apple

  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 cup shredded apple
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Toppings Ideas: chopped apple, raisins, shredded coconut, nut butter

Instructions:

In a medium saucepan, combine coconut milk, oats, sea salt, and chia seeds (from the ‘Oatmeal Base’ portion).  Add ½ cup water, carrot, apple, cinnamon, and cloves.  Mix well and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until oats are softened and oatmeal has thickened, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and stir in maple syrup vanilla, and collagen peptides, if using.  If you like, thin with a little more water to reach desired consistency.  Portion into bowls and add toppings.

Parsnip Pear

  • 1 cup shredded parsnip
  • 1 ripe pear, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

Toppings Ideas: more chopped pear, sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, chopped dried apricots

Instructions:

In a medium saucepan, combine coconut milk, oats, sea salt, and chia seeds (from the ‘Oatmeal Base’ portion).  Add parsnip, pear, cinnamon and cardamom.  Mix well and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until oats are softened and oatmeal has thickened, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and stir in maple syrup vanilla, and collagen peptides, if using.  If you like, thin with a little water to reach desired consistency.  Portion into bowls and add toppings.

Each recipe yields 3-4 servings


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Enjoying The “Easy” In-Between Years

We have officially entered the years of parenting that I have looked forward to for years. I call them “The in-between Years.” The relatively easy years in between irrational toddlers and being held hostage by naptime, when your child needs you for every part of life, and the hormonal teenage years, when your child may pretend you don’t exist. Don’t get me wrong, we have plenty of tween attitude, but for the most part, my 7 and 9 year olds can dress, bathe and feed themselves, entertain themselves and each other safely, and follow directions (if they want to.) They are *mostly* rational and can *usually* be reasoned with. They thoroughly enjoy themselves when they are on family vacations and otherwise spending time with family, and don’t seem to tire of their family members. Social media and screens have not yet become the focus of their lives, and they enjoy telling their parents all of the details of their lives.

My husband and I are working hard not to take for granted the joy in the simpleness of our days. Having 2 sports-obsessed boys, we spend our days talking about who got traded to which basketball team, and the impact that will have on their beloved NBA teams. We discuss the next big event in Dogman’s crazy experiences, and how much each and every basketball card in their beloved collections are worth. My boys are convinced they will one day be playing professional basketball. I love that at their ages, they are filled with confidence and are fearless that these dreams will become reality. The hopes and dreams they have at this stage seem to them to be totally possible opportunities if they work hard enough. 

We are loving the days that are not yet influenced by peer pressure, crushes, or worry about GPAs. While these days seem carefree, they are so important, so we are savoring them. These are the foundational days where we feel like it is important for us to build trust with our children and to help them feel appreciated and known. These days are still filled with “I love you, mom,” and even holding hands in public while walking. My youngest has a very strong need for physical affection, and when he is playing with his brother or watching TV, he will often seek me out every so often and ask for a hug. He is able to voice his need for some connection. His older brother has some different needs. He prefers to spend some quality time together, even requesting me to watch him build LEGO’s or shoot baskets can fill his bucket and help him to feel loved. 

These days often feel like our boys are running circles around us as we head to practices, sporting events, school functions, and community events. The flurry of activities can be a bit overwhelming, but I am attempting to store up all of the experiences in my soul and treasure each experience, hard experiences included, as they are all contributing to the fabric of our family life and we are seeking to be intentional, even in these “easy” in-between years.

Photos by Laura Friedberg Photography


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What I’ve Learned As The Mom Of A Late Bloomer

If you meet him, he will be thoughtful and kind and his shoelaces will probably be untied. Maybe you will wonder if he knows how to tie them. Haven’t his parents taught him how to tie his shoes? He is in mid-elementary school, after all. If you see him at the park, he will be polite to your son or daughter as he rides his bicycle with training wheels. Maybe you will wonder why he is still riding with training wheels when many of his classmates left those behind several years ago. If you watch him on the basketball court, he will help a teammate who falls down but he is afraid to take the ball to the basket. Maybe you will wonder if his parents shoot baskets with him at home.

I am the mom of that kind, thoughtful little boy. I am the mom of a late bloomer.

What does it mean when your child is a late bloomer?

As a baby, my son was never what you would consider “behind” on developmental milestones, but he would take just long enough that I would start to worry. Then every time I felt concerned about his progress in some area, he surprised me and would take off. When he wasn’t talking much by 18 months, I wondered what was wrong.

Was it possible he had a speech delay or even autism? We worked with a speech therapist from Rainbows United and he quickly caught up to his peers, much to my relief. As he reached preschool, I wondered about his motor skills. He struggled with fine motor and handwriting, but also had glasses for a mild eye turn and seemed to be a lefty.

Did I have reason for concern or was this normal development? It was hard to tell. His sweet preschool teacher assured me that if he was still struggling in kindergarten, we could pursue OT (occupational therapy) where he received extra help with motor skills. But when he reached kindergarten, his handwriting and motor skills were on track; no real reason for concern.

Waiting it Out

I began to see I was torturing myself by giving my son unrealistic deadlines that were all in my mind. My son was not defined by the milestones he reached. So what if my son didn’t walk at 9 months and didn’t learn to read in preschool. The 3-Day Potty Training Method did not work for us. He would develop in his own time when he was good and ready, not when I or anyone else thought he should be ready.

No amount of pushing on my part will make him want to learn to tie his shoelaces sooner or ride his bike without training wheels. That doesn’t mean we don’t work on those skills, but if frustration takes over for either of us, we stop. We can always try again tomorrow or next week. I am proud of him for being kind, inclusive and conscientious despite his lack of concern for floppy, untied shoes. I love his lego-building skills, obsession with Magic Treehouse books and fascination with Kansas City Chiefs stats.

Most importantly, I want to give him the opportunity to grow at his own pace, the chance to explore hobbies that he is passionate about and a heart that cares about other people.

So next time you see a sweet boy with untied shoelaces, instead of comparing, just smile at him and remember that all children bloom in their own time.


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Working on My (Financial) Fitness: 5 Budgeting Tips for Overwhelmed Families

 
My husband and I first realized we were a a bit financially clueless when we got engaged. I was 100% debt-free, loved to shop, and had zero plans for what to do with my paychecks to make them grow long-term. My husband was up to his eyeballs in debt with student loans and a car payment, hated shopping, and also had no idea about financial planning for the future.
 
Ah, but we were young. We’d figure it out…right?
 
Now it’s a several years later and we’ve added a mortgage and babies to the mix. We realized we needed to get serious about paying off the student loans and car payment so we could focus on planning for retirement, our kids’ college funds, and hopefully the opportunity for us to travel more. We were motivated but overwhelmed about how to start. Through many failures (which also means many times we lifted each other back up to try again) we figured out some tricks for making a budget that have helped us make serious progress on our financial goals. I’m sharing why we love having a budget and some of the best lessons we have learned these past few years!

Lesson 1: Just start!

I’ll never forget the evening early in our marriage when I glanced at our checking account and saw a startling low number. Where had our money gone?! Had we been hacked?! I started combing through purchase by purchase and realized my husband and I had eaten over $500 worth of restaurant food…and we hadn’t even gone anywhere nice! (Those quick stops at Chick-Fil-A add up quickly!) We were embarrassed we hadn’t even realized that and decided to make a budget immediately. We used the free monthly cash flow budget sheet from financial guru Dave Ramsey to get us started. This helped us focus and plan on all the ways we used our money each month. We now use an Excel spreadsheet so we can see multiple months at a time for longer range-planning, which helps us to stay on track month-to-month. Don’t be discouraged if you make a budget and it turns out to be a disaster the first month! Keep trying and you’ll get a lot better about figuring out how to make your money matter where you need it the most. Oh and STICK WITH YOUR BUDGET. You put all the hard work into creating it – make it count!

Lesson 2: Be in control

Remember how earlier I said I loved to shop? Having a budget helped me to truly think about my purchases and not just impulse buy, which led to less clutter and more appreciation for what I had. My husband, who again, hated to shop, learned that it’s ok to spend money and enjoy some of your paycheck when it’s planned out. Making a budget also helped us to be intentional with meal planning, mainly cooking at home but still enjoying some of our favorite local restaurants every once in awhile. We used to be guilty of throwing out a lot of food each week because we just didn’t plan well, but having a budget helps us to only buy what we need and encourages us to actually use it for meals each week.

Lesson 3: Plan ahead. Like way ahead.

Think of birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, and any other special occasions where you will be purchasing gifts.  What’s neat about these is that they always fall on the same day of the year, which means you can start saving now and avoid budget disasters later. This last year we had our entire Christmas budget saved up ready to go by September! This eased a ton of stress when all of those amazing Black Friday sales started! 

Lesson 4: Find the support you need

My husband and I found a wonderful resource at our bank: a Financial Education Specialist who helps us build our spreadsheets – for free! Her analysis of the budget tells us which time of each month we can afford to throw money at debt so we can get closer to saving and investing. She has been a tremendous cheerleader for us and is another set of eyes to see all aspects of our budget.  Since our goal right now is to pay off our debt to start investing more in our future, I’ve also found social media communities to keep me motivated! Nothing like scrolling through Instagram at all the lavish influencer posts and then see one from #debtfreecommunity about saving and budgeting to stop me from swiping up to purchase something I don’t need! 

Lesson 5: No excuses- it’s time for discipline. 

I know it’s easy to think if you just had more money that a budget would be easier to stick with, but the truth is it’s all about developing better spending habits and having the discipline to stick with them.  Make up your mind about your financial goals and then get after it! 

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5 Things Your Healthcare Provider Wants You To Know


In today’s healthcare culture, patient satisfaction trumps patient safety. Providers are ranked online and put on display like Tinder for your selection. With social media exposure being the new “word of mouth,” sometimes its good to look at things from a different perspective:

1. Yes, we’re running late. We know this.

Perhaps one of the biggest complaints heard in doctor’s offices in every specialty is that the provider is running late. If I had a nickel for every time a patient said, “my time is just as valuable as yours or the doctors!” I could actually be able to pay off those student loans. Yes, we are running late. Yes, we are aware. No, it’s not because we don’t think your time is valuable. We want you to be able to discuss all the things you need to in your visit- because your time IS valuable, we want you to be able to make the most of your visit. Other times it’s because we have had to deliver devastating news to a patient, that requires a much longer than scheduled appointment. Maybe a hospital patient deteriorated overnight and the entire day’s schedule is shot, but we’re still trying to get to clinic to keep you from having to reschedule. One thing is for certain though: the more you complain about the schedule, the later we are going to be for the following patients.

2. Like every good relationship, trust must be the foundation.

I don’t know when or how it began, but there is a mounting distrust of medical professionals. If you don’t feel that your medical provider has your best interest at heart, why continue going to them? By all means, if there is something you aren’t quite sure of, just ask. A secure professional should not take questions as an attack. Instead of assuming a recommendation isn’t in your best interest, maybe ask for an explanation of why that test or medication is necessary. Open communication is necessary for trust on both parts.

3. Doctors are not the only providers capable of providing quality care.

The demand for providers is outgrowing the rate that trained physicians are available. What does that mean? Enter the nurse practitioner and physician assistant. Referred to as mid-level providers, physician extenders, or allied health professionals, NPs and PAs work in virtually every specialty as means to bridge the gap between the physician shortage and patient demand. Just because you may see the NP or PA instead of the physician during a visit, does not mean you are getting inferior care. Let me repeat that one more time for the cheap seats in the back: stop thinking of NPs and PAs as inferior. We are fellow healthcare providers. That means we we have additional degrees and years of training, along with board certifications and state and national licenses. We play crucial roles in your healthcare. NPs and PAs are trained to work as part of a multidisciplinary team with your doctor. And as the physician shortage increases, the utilization of physician extenders will be even more necessary and frequent. Its time to get comfortable seeing them.

4. We can’t care more about your well being than you do.

Not every provider is warm and fuzzy. Sometimes a little tough love is needed. The majority of the time it doesn’t mean we lack compassion or empathy. But caring for people who refuse to take accountability or responsibility gets old fast. Just because we tell you something you don’t want to hear (stop smoking! Lose weight! Quit eating crap! Take your freaking medication!) doesn’t mean we’re not rooting for you. We just want you to suck it up buttercup and start doing the things you know you need to do. We can’t make you better if you don’t want to make yourself better. If there were a magic wand to do this, I would have sold it and cashed in on that gravy train and be retired on a beach somewhere.

5. We’re people too.

Our superpower may be saving lives, but at the end of the day, we’re people too. We have families we see way too little of because of the hours our jobs demand. We take out absurd amounts of student loans and spend literally decades training for our roles. Few other fields require the same commitment as becoming a healthcare provider. That doesn’t give us a pass to do and act however we please, but it means, sometimes keep those things in mind and give us a little grace.

Bottom line: We chose careers to help and heal, but we’re not perfect. Just like everyone else, we’re doing our best. 


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3 Things I’ve Learned About Motherhood from Writer’s Block

There are times when the words won’t come. Even after some 13 years of writing for magazines, newspapers, blogs, and a self-published book. 

I stare at the computer. It stares at me.

It’s kind of like motherhood. Even if you have tons of kids and you’ve been doing it for years, you still sometimes don’t know. You stare at a kid. And they stare back at you. 

Here’s some hard-earned lessons from overcoming writer’s block that help me figure out motherhood.  

1. Start Without Motivation

The first thing I’ve learned about writer’s block, is that I can’t wait around for motivation. I have to do it anyway.

This was never truer than when I freelanced for a local newspaper. I covered county commission meetings that ended at 11am (normally) and my deadline was noon. 

I couldn’t wait around for the right words; I had one hour to run from the courthouse to the library and write 500 words. Interesting words. Words that made local politics relevant (hopefully).  

As a mom, I draw from that experience. 

I don’t feel like taking my kids to the park. EVER.

A lot of evenings, I’m so tired that a bedtime read-aloud chapter feels like a marathon. But I don’t have to wait until I feel like being a fun or intentional mom. I can just get going on it.

Once I start typing any words, the good words will start flowing (usually). Once I’m intentional with my kiddos, the joy and gratitude will start flowing (intentionally).  

What have you been wanting to do with your kids, that you just need to start? 

2. Take a Rest

One hour of writing is about the limit for how long I can stay focused and push words out. Then it’s time for a break. Especially if I’m stuck and forcing it. 

Then it’s time to put on the kettle.

It’s time for a game of hide and seek with my toddler.

It’s time for a 30-minute nap.

After pushing through writer’s block, my next tactic is to rest.

I apply this to motherhood too. We can be all focused and intentional, with reasonable consequences and STEM games, swim lessons and board games.

But after a while, I need to rest from kid stuff.

Hubby and I went on an 11-year-anniversary trip for a few days in Cozumel. It was the first time we’d ever left the kiddos for longer than one night. They had a great time with their wonderful aunt, and we came back so rested, so refreshed.

But rest doesn’t have to be long or expensive. Grab a quick coffee with a friend or go to a Wichita Mom community group meet-up. Read a thoughtful book you before bed. Find a podcast for your ear buds only.  

3. Look With Fresh Eyes

In the movie Finding Forrester, a reclusive author writes “constipated thinking” across a page of his young protégé’s work. Hear that in Sean Connery’s voice, and tell me if you don’t get writer’s block!  

I’ve set a rule to never immediately send or publish a finished article or post. It needs to sit for a few hours or days, so I can see with fresh eyes if it’s constipated writing.

With a perspective, I’m often surprised by how easily I can find new thoughts, better word choices, or the conclusion that eluded me. And it’s easier to edit “constipated thinking” than it is to start from scratch.

In motherhood, we often need to back up and see things from a new angle. We get caught up in the day-to-day, trying to keep up with laundry and dishes, school and work. 

Step back and see the bigger picture. What’s working for you, and where do you need to make adjustments? (And say goodbye to stressful activities, old nap schedules and ambitious meal plans?) 

The best thing I’ve learned is that even great writers get blocked.

And even if you’re feeling stuck, you’re a really awesome mom.

Share this with a friend who needs to know that too!


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Side Hustle Got You in a Bustle? Legal Tips for Your Side Gig

Thank you to Martin Pringle for sponsoring this post written by Karlee Canaday & Danielle Cornejo, and for providing excellence in business and entrepreneurial law for Wichita business owners.

side hustle legal tips

The side hustle is real. A quick scroll through Facebook and you’ll run across people selling all types of products and services straight from the comfort of their living room or while sitting at the desk of their “real job”. More and more people are looking for ways to make a little extra cash and with social media at our fingertips, it’s getting easier to do so. If you have a side hustle or thinking about starting one, consider these tips to stay on the right side of the law.  

Liability Protection 

Creating an LLC (limited liability company) for your side gig is almost always a good idea. If something goes wrong with the products or services your providing, it could expose not only your business, but also your personal assets to liability.  Setting up an LLC can protect you from the latter. 

The last thing you want is something going wrong with your side business that could affect your personal bank account. Let’s be honest, no matter what you are selling, the more you sell of it, the more likely something will go wrong. If that unhappy customer decides to take legal action, having an LLC in place helps limit your liability to only the assets of the business and protect your personal ones.  

Employment Contracts 

If you have a job and you’re thinking about picking up a side gig to supplement your income, take a look at your employment contract first.  Sometimes employers will prohibit employees from selling products or services outside the scope of your employment. This could limit what your side gig looks like, or worse yet, you could have to share those proceeds with your employer.  

Or, maybe you’re thinking about leaving your full-time job to do your own thing? Before you put in your 2-weeks’ notice, review your employment contract. Often times, employers will include non-compete provisions which could prohibit you from going out on your own, especially if your new business will compete with your prior employer.  

Another thing to keep in mind is that your employment contract could give the employer the right to any product or idea that is developed by their employees while on the job, so it’s generally not a good idea to use company resources to work on your side gig or starting that new business.  

Tax Considerations 

Finally, don’t forget that your side gig needs to be reported for tax purposes. You’re probably not going to get a W-2 or 1099 that provides all of the relevant amounts for you, and depending on the volume of sales you have, you may be subject to collecting and paying sales taxes in addition to income taxes.  So make sure you’re keeping proper financial records. 

Navigating the legal puzzle of your side hustle can be confusing, but following these tips will increase the chance of getting that extra cash in your pocket, and keeping it there! 


Karlee Canaday joined Martin Pringle in 2019 after clerking with the firm for two years. Karlee completed her undergraduate degree at Kansas State University and went on to earn her J. D. at the University of Kansas School of Law. She focuses her practice on business & entrepreneurial law, tax law as well as estate planning including estate administration and probate.

Danielle Cornejo earned an undergraduate degree in Strategic Communications at Oklahoma State University.  She knew she wanted to further her education, and after a bit of soul searching, Danielle decided to apply to law school.  When Danielle’s father passed away during her first year at the University of Oklahoma School of Law, she was elected by her family to administer the estate.  Left with no will or trust to guide her, Danielle relied on law school professors and mentors to help her through the emotional task of administering her father’s estate.  This experience confirmed for Danielle that attending law school was the right decision.  Although she encourages clients to seek her assistance in making a testamentary plan, Danielle also stands ready to help those who find themselves in situations similar to hers, when a loved one dies intestate.  Danielle focuses her practice on estate planning, estate administration, tax law, business law, and real estate matters.

How To Be Less Social If You’re An Extrovert

You have probably seen or read “helpful articles that instruct introverts on “How to Be More Social.” What?? My favorite people are introverts, all beautiful souls who I wouldn’t change for the world. Since I’m the biggest extrovert that ever thrilled at the sight of a busy mall, I’d like to offer my advice on how extroverts can be happier staying at home. You may find some nuggets of truth that help bring balance your outgoing personality. (Or you can share this with your favorite people-person!) 

Get Alone Time

If you’re an extrovert, your natural instinct doesn’t motivate you to be energized by quiet contemplation. It will take you more time to appreciate being alone. Do it anyway. (maniacal laugh) 

As a fire wife, I have ⅓ of my evenings to myself after the kids are in bed. It helped to start treating myself as if I’m good company. I have interesting thoughts, I know what I like, and sometimes, I make myself snacks. Quiet time still doesn’t recharge me, but it’s taught me valuable things about myself.  

Cancel Stuff

There are so many memes on the internet about introverts being excited to cancel. Apparently, we don’t need to go to everything? And maybe we should even teach that to our kids, that they don’t feel pressure to participate in everything.

Hey, if introverts are encouraged to force themselves to join stuff, you can suffer through FOMO. Yeah, I’ve cried in my closet when “everyone” else was out having fun on a Saturday night. Maybe it’s character-building. 

A first step to canceling, is to click “Interested” on all the events, so Facebook will remind you what you are missing. Then evaluate your resources (time and energy included!) to see if you need to cancel something. Deep breaths. Tell them sorry you can’t make it. I believe in you.

While you’re shut-in (I mean, enjoying canceling), do something special for yourself. Blare dat music, dance it out, take a nap, take a bath, rent a movie. You can also turn that open slot into rich, quality family time to remind you that circling the wagons is sometimes better than hitting the trail. (Family time = Little House on the Prairie around here.) 

Implement Routines 

Create social rituals to remind you to withdraw. Maybe it’s getting up early, so you have a quiet moment to read, journal or meditate before going out to see all the people. Give yourself a curfew for events. I love to be the last one at a party. I really do. But setting a time to leave and prioritizing my sleep can actually be more beneficial than more social time. Gasp.

Fewer People

Shift your focus from groups of people to individuals. This will make you more introvert-y. They are good at it. Even in a group, see who you can focus on one-on-one, giving them all your attention. Yes, there will be a bunch of people that you didn’t get to say hi to. It’ll be ok. 

Quiet Places

When choosing what to do with your (likely introverted) spouse, choose places (like home) that allow for intimate conversation without crowds. Maybe you were all hyped up about going out with a whole group of couples. (It me.) A quiet home date can bring quality time and deep topics you might have otherwise missed.    

Listen Up!

Don’t just respond, focus on listening and thinking. You don’t have to talk so much. Lean in to the gaps in conversation without interrupting them. I sometimes realize I’ve commandeered the conversation. I also have to remember to physically sit still while listening or even watching TV with an introvert. Don’t fold laundry or twist a string or fidget. My introverts really appreciate when I can be still. 

Consider ways you can express yourself non-verbally, with body language more than your actual voice. You’re so loud, extrovert friend. At least, that’s what they tell me.

We can do this, extroverts. We can be less social. 

JK!

Each personality type is beautiful and worthy of being honored in their own way:

extrovert, introvert and ambivert (didn’t know that was a thing? oh yeah!)  

Let’s all commit to growing into the very best, balanced version of our own selves.


Make sure you never miss out on things to do in Wichita: subscribe to our weekly Wichita Moms Blog newsletter! Be the first to know about our exclusive events, special offers and discounts, neighborhood group activities and, of course, local resources and parenting voices powered by Wichita moms!

 

New Year, New You…New Hobby?

Ring in the New Year with a focus on you! Wichita State University has more than 50 non-credit, personal enrichment classes that will help you learn new skills, improve your health and well-being or start a new hobby. Each course is taught by a local expert who will guide you along the way in a fun, engaging learning environment. Spring courses include the following: 

Home and DIY Classes

Culinary Classes

 Recreation, Fitness and Health Classes

Arts and Crafts Classes

 

For the complete class schedule or to register, visit wichita.edu/communityeducation. Please contact the Community Education office at 316-978-3731 for questions.  

Through its Community Education Program, WSU offers approximately 100 non-credit classes each year on a variety of special interest topics including gardening, home DIY, culinary, arts and crafts, languages and travel.  Classes are designed for personal enrichment and enjoyment. There are no tests or homework!

 

Picture (Im)Perfect: 5 Ways to Get in the Photo in 2020

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I recently saw a local photographer post some pictures in a breathtaking Kansas setting. One of the comments I saw was how gorgeous the family looked, and how this was the setting the commenting mama wanted when she made her goal weight. While I can totally relate to this sentiment since I pick myself apart in every single picture I am in, whether professional or candid, although I didn’t say anything, something inside of me felt like telling her not to wait!
 

Photo opportunities

One of the hazards of carrying around a phone with high quality image capabilities is that there are many more opportunities for a busy mama to grab pictures of their kids doing every day things. Your kid looks cute with the giant stuffed bear at Costco, you snap a pic, they hugged the canister of cookies at Trader Joe’s, you snap a pic, they were brave and climbed to the top of the playground structure at the park, you snap a pic. Our kids have thousands of pictures taken of them, but mamas are rarely seen in anything but a selfie, and unfortunately I have only mastered the awkward selfie. I am usually preoccupied worrying about the double chin and unflattering angle while I try to get all the little people in the picture. 
 

Ask for people to take your picture.

Years ago I heard a seasoned mom’s advice to ask others to take pictures of you with your kids. I remember asking my husband to take some pictures of me when I was sitting or playing with my kids. I have a few pictures that I just treasure, but mostly ended up with pictures that may not be the most flattering of me, or even my children, but bring me great joy when I look back on them.
 
 

Let your kids take pictures.

Since my kids are a little bit older, I have started letting them take pictures of things they want. It gives me a little glimpse of the world as they see it. I usually end up with silly selfies and lots of pictures of nature, but I never regret looking at life from their perspective.
 

Schedule professional pictures.

I have made a lot of parenting mistakes along the way, but I learned a bit of a painful lesson very early on in my parenting journey. Our budget was extremely limited especially in the early years, and we just didn’t have money for professional pictures. I only made it a point to take belly pics a handful of times throughout my first pregnancy. I have regretted not having pictures taken or making it a priority to freeze those moments in time. Since my second came along pretty quickly after my first, I established family pictures every 6 months. Sometimes we go for seasonal mini’s with a professional photographer, and other times, when the budget allows, we are able to do a full family setting, and have had a photographer come to our home to take some pictures that we can look back on as seasons change. My rule of thumb is that I choose the pictures where I feel like I look the best in. I have hundreds of adorable pictures of my kids, the ones with me in them that I feel like I look my best are much fewer and far between. I also tend to dress my kids fairly casual because I want them to feel comfortable and cooperate a little better for the photographer.
 

Just take the picture.

When I mentioned to some friends that I would be writing a post encouraging family pictures, one mentioned that when she lost her mother unexpectedly a few years ago, every single picture with them together meant so much more. I can imagine that even the pictures where grandma was giving “that look” or not smiling for the camera are just as meaningful as the images that are perfectly posed.
 
So mamas, even if you are not feeling like the best version of yourself during the stage of motherhood that you are in, go get the pictures taken. You are important to your family,  and as time passes, the images will give you and your family joy from that moment in time. Some of the pictures that are candid and in natural settings may not look perfectly curated, but reminders of your perfectly imperfect life are memories that you will truly treasure.
 
Picture by Laura Friedberg Photography

Make sure you never miss out on things to do in Wichita: subscribe to our weekly Wichita Moms Blog newsletter! Be the first to know about our exclusive events, special offers and discounts, neighborhood group activities and, of course, local resources and parenting voices powered by Wichita moms!

 

The Only Chili Recipes You Need Right Now

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My family loves chili. Any time of year, hot or cold weather, they love it. Chili is great because you can make it in the slow cooker to be ready whenever you need it, or on the stove top relatively quickly in an eveniing. It freezes well, and you can customize the heat and toppings so easily. If my husband is on his game, he makes cinnamon rolls to go with it, otherwise I love a box mix of cornbread from Trader Joe’s. Here are our three favorite chili recipes.

Traditional (Red) Chili

  • 1lb ground beef, browned
  • 1 yellow onion, diced fine
  • 1 tbs garlic
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 2 cans dark red kidney beans
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbs chili powder
  • 2 tbs cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano

I like to brown my ground beef with the onions and garlic. Then add all ingredients to your pot, crock, or freezer bag. If you are cooking on the stovetop, simmer for at least 20 minutes to combine flavors or until completely heated through. For the crock pot, low for at least 4 hours. If you are freezing, once you are ready to cook, thaw in the fridge overnight and then cook either in the crock pot or stovetop as described. I thaw with the freezer bag in my crock so if it leaks the mess is contained.

Suggested Toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, diced onion, diced jalapeno, oyster crackers

Chicken (White) Chili

  • 1 lb chicken breasts
  • 28 oz chicken broth (2 cans or one box)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped fine
  • 4 oz green chilies
  • 2 cans cannellini beans
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 tbs garlic
  • 1 tbs cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

Add all ingredients to crock pot or freezer bag. For the crock pot, cook on high for 4 hours or low at least 6. Open lid and shred chicken with two forks, then replace lid and let cook for 5-10 more minutes. If frozen, thaw in fridge in crock overnight to catch any liquid from the bag, then cook as directed.

Suggested Toppings: shredded Monterrey jack cheese, fresh squeezed lime, chopped avocado, tortilla chips

Taco Soup

  • 1 lb ground beef, browned
  • 1 onion, diced fine
  • 1 tbs garlic
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 can cannellini beans
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can Rotel
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 pkg taco seasoning
  • 1 pkg ranch dressing

Brown my ground beef with the onions and garlic. Then add all ingredients to your pot, crock, or freezer bag. If you are cooking on the stovetop, simmer for at least 20 minutes to combine flavors or until completely heated through. For the crock pot, low for at least 4 hours. If you are freezing, once you are ready to cook, thaw in the fridge overnight and then cook either in the crock pot or stovetop as described. I thaw with the freezer bag in my crock so if it leaks the mess is contained.

Suggested toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, fritos

What is your favorite chili recipe? Drop a link in the comments!

3 Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes I Hope Will Inspire My Children

Everybody knows that Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream that one day, the children of slaves and the children of slave-owners would be able to live in a world of brotherhood and equal opportunity. Recently I’ve set out to read more of his writings, and along the way I’ve picked up nuggets of wisdom I find very applicable to our time and place. Martin Luther King Day is a perfect opportunity to pass on some more of his great words to my children.

“When the history books are written, someone will say there lived black people who had the courage to stand up for their rights.”

Martin Luther King Jr. did not give dignity to his oppressed race (he believed that was bestowed upon them by our Creator), but he did help them see their dignity was worth a fight. He not only helped them find their voices, but encouraged them to make their voices heard in a world that didn’t want to listen to the cries of the oppressed. I, too, want my children to be aware of their own, God-given dignity. I want them to understand that, no matter what, their no means no. I want them to truly believe that they never need to back down from what they know to be true, even when standing on their principles makes life uncomfortable for them. This world needs more people full of strength and conviction, even when it leads to conflict and opposition. Some things in life are worth fighting for, and I pray my children will be strong and confident enough to know this and stand strong, even when it isn’t easy.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

When Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, he was in Memphis, Tennessee, helping garbage collectors on strike. He was not only concerned about his personal rights, but he was also concerned about the rights of all people who were disadvantaged and overlooked. This is so important. Perhaps one of my strongest desires for my children is that they will grow to be people who care about the plight of others, whether it directly affects their own lives or not. Sometimes we have to redistribute our power to those who have less of it. Sometimes we have to be the voice for those who don’t have one. It can be unpopular, and it can make other people angry, just like Martin Luther King Jr. offended many in his day. But there is so much hurting in this world, and so much abuse of power. I want my children to have eyes to see the dignity and worth of every human being, and to be agents of change so that other people will see their value too.

“Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”

Twitter wars are easy. Publicly shaming others on social media is a piece of cake. And here’s hoping it stays at that, though we all know violence and mass shootings have become a much-too-regular occurrence. The bottom line? Loving people is hard, especially in such a tense and polarized time as now. Unfortunately, the way we deal with this conflict is often not the path of love. Martin Luther King believed in a better way. He believed love drives out hate. What if we were people who aimed to build bridges by loving and listening, instead of burning bridges with our quick, overly-simplified answers and biting social media responses? What if our priority was to better understand other perspectives instead of making our only goal to be understood? I want my children to grow up in a more loving world, but, as is commonly said, the only way to change the world is to be the change you want to see. I hope my children are people who are quick to listen, slow to become angry, and eager to show compassion and empathy to all people, even those on the other side of the fence.

I really do believe what Martin Luther King Jr. believed: love can drive out hate. Love can change the world.

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Spring Break Camps and Activities for Kids in Wichita 2020

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